Candle Making

Aromatherapy is the practice of using extracted plant oils to improve both psychological and physical health. Many candle makers like to apply some of the principles of aromatherapy when they make scented candles. The hope is that not only will the finished candle be enjoyable but that it will also improve the user's well-being. Although conventional medicine doesn't really recognize aromatherapy, if applied appropriately there is little downside to it. If you're interested in trying this approach, this page on aromatherapy candle making will give you a start.

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Aromatherapy uses essential oils extracted from a variety of plants. Each has its own unique characteristics and effects. Aromatherapy practitioners insist on using essential oils and not perfume oils or fragrance oils, which are not the same things. Fragrance oils and perfume oils often contain synthetic chemicals. Some of these chemicals are used in the extraction process and some actually are artificially generated fragrance. For example, a lavender scented perfume oil may not have any essential oil of lavender and it at all.

There several ways of extracting essential oils from plants. The results are often categorized as hydrosols, absolutes or CO2s.

Hydrosols are the aromatic water that remains after the steam extraction of essential oils. They only lightly scented and as a water based product, they're not appropriate for candle making.

Absolutes are essential oils obtained by chemical extraction. These are highly concentrated essential oils, but may contain trace amounts of fissile the chemical. For this reason, aromatherapy purists are somewhat circumspect about using them therapeutically. I believe they are, however, appropriate for candle making.

Another method of extraction uses liquid carbon dioxide as a solvent. Turning carbon dioxide into liquid requires cooling it and increasing the pressure. After the essential oils have been extracted by the carbon dioxide, the carbon dioxide is allowed to return to its gaseous state. The process results in essential oils without any trace contamination.

If you intend to make an aromatherapy candle using only pure essential oil, be sure to read the fine print on the oil you’re purchasing. Some less-than-honorable manufacturers will have a vague claim such as "made with essential oils" listed prominently on the label when in fact their product contains only a small amount of essential oil mixed with other oils and is not 100% essential oil.

On the page Aromatherapy Candle Fragrance I list various essential oils and their proposed therapeutic applications. You can use that list as a general guide in selecting essential oils for a given application.

Once you've chosen an oil, the process of making a candle with is pretty much the same as adding any other scent to a candle. You can read the details about this at Making Scented Candles, but the main points are to be mindful of the max amount of oil a given wax can hold and to blend in the essential oil immediately before pouring the candle to maintain maximum scent.

Because it burns cleanly, hold scent well and is a natural product many candle makers prefer to use soy candle wax for the aromatherapy candles. I feel the same way, but I will also use aromatherapy oils with paraffin wax if I want to make an aromatherapy Pillar candle.

I should also mention another association between candles and aromatherapy. That is a candle diffuser. People that employ aromatherapy use various methods to inhale the aroma. One is a candle diffuser. These are typically made of ceramic and have space for a tea candle under a small bowl-shaped depression. To use it, you place a drop or two of essential oil in the bowl and heat from the candle dissipates the oil into the room.

I hope you enjoy exploring aromatherapy as a side aspect to your general candle making.

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